BY YASMEEN ABUTALEB
Facebook users took to the social media site on Wednesday to react to the company’s decision to test what Facebook Inc Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg called a “dislike button” – and not everyone liked the idea.
In a town hall-style question and answer session Tuesday, Zuckerberg took questions from users about topics ranging from virtual reality to his wife’s pregnancy. Yet most Facebook users fixated on his announcement that the 1.5-billion user social network was working on adding a button other than “like.”
Users flooded Zuckerberg’s official Facebook page with nearly 3,000 comments largely about the dislike option. While some said they would use Facebook more if the button were introduced, others said it would lead to cyberbullying and more negativity on the site.
“Please don’t put a dislike button, as much as there is times I would love it, would much rather express my thoughts in words to be completely direct on my opinion,” said user Andrea Robichaud.
Users have been asking for a dislike button for several years, Zuckerberg said, though it may not necessarily be named dislike or be represented with a thumbs down. He added that the company was preparing to test a version of the button.
“Not every moment is a good moment,” Zuckerberg said.
The button’s aim, he said, would be to express empathy on posts that may reference topics where “like” is not the appropriate response, such as the refugee crisis or the death of a loved one.
Some users offered alternative suggestions that they thought would minimize harassment on the site, such as adding a “sympathy” button instead or allowing users to opt out of the “dislike” button on their posts.
Others took a more humorous approach. Vince Vogel suggested Facebook offer “public smile, private smile, private frown and public frown” instead of like and dislike.
Analysts are not expecting a huge financial payoff if the company goes forward, and Facebook shares rose slightly Wednesday on the first full trading session after the announcement, up 0.5 percent to around $93.40.
“If it takes off it will help engagement,” said Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, although noting the revenue impact would not be great. “This is probably more in response to what Facebook sees as a feature requested by users.”
(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)